This past Saturday, I led a guided bird walk to Kendall Camp in the Bradshaw Mountains. It was the perfect morning for a bird walk, as it had rained the night before. All of nature seemed refreshed and clean, and the birds were active and singing.
Almost immediately after getting out of the car, we heard the plaintive call of a hawk, off in the distance. I knew there was the possibility of seeing a northern goshawk in this location, so we focused our attention on finding the hawk. Seeing a goshawk would have been an amazing way to start the bird walk, as they are both uncommon and secretive. It didn’t take long to find the hawk, but it turned out to be a juvenile red-tail, not a goshawk. It was disappointing, but still a good find.
The one thing that really helped us locate a variety of birds was the vocalizations we were hearing. Birds tend to do a lot of calling and singing first thing in the morning, which makes finding them a lot easier.
There were some bird species that we never saw, even though we could hear them and even identify them by their call. For example, we heard a red-breasted nuthatch at one point, and later we heard red crossbills-but we didn’t see either of them. House wrens were difficult to track down too. We kept hearing them, and, eventually, we got a few decent looks at them.
There were other bird species we struggled to see too-even though we were hearing them-including warbling vireo and bridled titmouse. There were some species that were super abundant and easy to find. There were bushtits everywhere!
One of the bird walkers was hoping we would find a red-faced warbler, an uncommon warbler found only in two states in north America-New Mexico and Arizona. People come from all over the country to see this special bird. We ended up spotting four different warbler species: Graces, painted redstart, red-faced and Virginia’s. It was a good morning for warblers!
At the conclusion of the walk, it was interesting to reflect on the list of birds we did not see. For example, we did not see a single raven, nor did we see any jays. Based on where we were, I would have fully expected to have seen Steller’s jays and possibly western scrub-jays. We also didn’t see any western bluebirds, which surprised me as we were in what I would consider perfect bluebird habitat.
On another note, I had a speaking engagement two weeks ago and a man in attendance came to the store and bought a wire mesh finch feeder and a bag of nyjer seed. The day after he hung up the feeder, the finches had already found it! He called and asked if I had texted his address to the birds. No, I replied, I didn’t text, I used Twitter! Nyjer seed for the goldfinches has been flying out the door the last two weeks, as it seems that all of the juveniles are joining their parents at the feeders.
Here’s a quick reminder on the two birding festivals that are taking place next week. Sedona will be hosting the Hummingbird Festival July 31 through Aug. 2, and Sierra Vista will be hosting the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival July 30 through Aug. 1. If you need more information on either of these events, please contact the store.
Until next week, Happy Birding!